How is Stephanie Castanos managing engagement at Resilient Coders

Learnings from the AMA with Stephanie Castanos, Director of Community at Resilient Coders
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November 4, 2022

Threado Community AMA series is exclusively built for the tight-knit slack community we are building at Threado. We gathered and brought together community leaders from Notion, Mixpanel On Deck, Glide, Startup Grind, and many more fast-growing startups.

For our first ever episode, we had Stephanie Castanos, Director of Community at Resilient Coders joining us to answer all questions in the community. The session was filled with many amazing insights on community building. Here are the top highlights from the session 👇

Q : What are some of the outcomes of the success stories from your community?

A : The main success is the Alumnus community, since they feel such a sense of belonging, they are always eager to come back and help out the community and the current community members, it also helps that the program is completely free, no fee, no salary agreements, they in fact pay they’re coders a stipend.

They also help the returning alumnus upgrade they’re skills be it in project management, leadership skills etc. 

Q : How are you building your community brand?

A : Right now while rebuilding, the main thing Resilient Coders are focusing on is making sure that the community can make the differences they want themselves instead of having to wait for responses or permission. This is allowing the community to have ownership of themselves and this might not work for bigger communities but right now this is what Resilient Coders is focusing on.

Q : How do you market your community to maintain a healthy top of the funnel?

A : The way to market your community is to highlight your community, i.e. highlighting your alumnus, and once a hiring manager sees people from your community and they’re work they come back for more. It’s also important to have a community where the people are committed to the work and you know can do a good job, it’s very important to keep funnelling in members who suite your community guidelines and values.

Q : What lessons can be drawn from the coding community that can be extrapolated to other communities?

A : There are three lessons that Stephanie says we can learn from the coding community :

  • Community engagement : Having people interact and work on projects that inspire them, having people join because they’re interested in the projects.
  • Community guidelines : Having a clear set of guidelines for the community to follow.
  • Rules and Consequences : While a new member is joining communicate clearly the expectations from them and what consequences would be for violating the rules and guidelines.

Q : Coding communities usually are more close knit, have more deeper bonds than other communities, why is that?

A : Majority of the coders are very empathetic as at some point, they themselves were confused and had no guidance, this is why whenever someone asks a question or needs help, they happily mentor them because at some point that was them. They also do meet and greets twice a year with alumni and current coders and they divide them into house in a Harry Potter style and this creates a little family where even if u graduated three-four years ago you still come back and have that house loyalty.

Q :  What’s the biggest secret when trying to build a sustainable community?

A : There is no straightforward answer to this, you have multiple facets to consider, why are you doing this? How do you plan for it? How do you strategize? Do you have budget available? 

You also need to understand your needs and what your team can do. For example, Resilient Coders is a non profit, so for them it’s all about getting more POCs into tech jobs, one thing that they do is storytelling. Sharing success stories, shining the spotlight on previous coders really lifts morale and motivates others.

Q : What happens after members learn to code? How do you help them leverage coding to get them closer to their goals?

A : During the program itself, there are redirections every three weeks, where people who are not meeting expectations are dropped from the program, they are still part of the community and can access the recorded lessons but they won’t be given the stipend. 

After the program is done they are put in touch with hiring partners and 85% if them are placed within 3 months. It also helps that previous members feel a huge connection to the community and are constantly pitching it to their employers which opens up more opportunities for current members.

Q : How important is resilience for your own role in the community?

A : Resilience is integral in any start up, but especially in Resilient Coders as it’s one of their integral values, especially since they are trying to get more POCs into the tech industry, they need to be resilient and strong and have that mental capacity to be able to handle everything.

Especially when going through the job search process, they need to be able to handle that rejection without giving up. Stephanie herself experienced it when she was just starting out as a Brazilian women without a degree, she has been with Resilient Coders since 2017 and has seen practically everything that they have gone through.


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